PAGING PONCE DE LEON

Carly Simon is in my head a lot these days singing, “You’re So Vain”. After decades of seeming perpetual youth in my career as a reporter, the portrait in my attic has become an illusion. It’s something with which most people who work in the public eye must come to grips as time goes by.

First, it was my hair turning salt and pepper, then predominantly gray. And, then, oh horror! A bald patch atop my head which has crept ever forward. Mother of mercy!!

72-Garry-Fenway-Sox_01

As a TV news guy, I was on the air several times a day, five or six days a week. For 31 years. I remember walking into an electronics store and seeing myself on dozens of TV sets, surrounded by a throng of appreciative people. From an ego point of view, it just doesn’t get much better.

The hair crisis was paralleled by my body telling me I could no longer work such long hours, nor party with little sleep and questionable dietary habits.

Understand that I’ve been retired going on 15 years now but I’ve been very slow to accept that the guy I see in the pictures on our wall no longer exists. Last week, I visited my two younger brothers at our family home. Our mission? Prepare the 60-year-old house for sale. Huge cleanup. My body cried for relief the first day. My brothers were sympathetic. I was grateful but my ego took a hit.

Three brothers and a cousin

Three brothers and a cousin

The drive home from West Hempstead to Uxbridge was out of “The Twilight Zone”. Bumper to bumper from start to finish. More than five hours! I used to relish such trips, regardless of traffic. It was fun in those convertible days, top down, letting memories blur the idiotic, incompetent motorists around me.

My convertible days are history along, with my tolerance for long hours on the road.

Credence Clearwater Revival rode shotgun the final hour of the drive, keeping me alert as I finger tapped the steering wheel. “Midnight Special” played a half-dozen times, right into our driveway as I arrived home and allowed myself a long sigh. I slowly — very slowly — extracted myself from the car. I tried to stretch.

Oh, the dismay. The fear and trembling. Where the hell was Ponce De Leon when I needed him? Probably still in his eternal search for that elusive fountain of youth …

25 thoughts on “PAGING PONCE DE LEON

  1. Instead of “aging,” I call it becoming more experienced. At 88, I’m accustomed to the face in the mirror, and I now know that I know nothing. My main concerns are about my daughter and her health, finances, and keeping a 76-year old house in condition. Then, I go out to the garden and look at the plants and the birds and the butterflies and the lizards and the fountain, read a good book, and take a nap. There are the dinners and parties and theater with friends, and all is just fine. On Sunday mornings, I go to church with my friend Peggy Lennon and get to sing with one of the Lennon Sisters! As long as we are surrounded by loving people, life is good. I send you beautiful thoughts on which to float.

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  2. DailyMusing, be glad its your mother looking back and not your dad.
    Garry, be glad its your father and not your mom.

    think about that very carefully

    Men seem to age more gently than women, and less demands are made of them (not counting the ones they put on themselves) by society than women feel they have to endure. The bar is set much differently for women, and you either try to live up to that or ignore it utterly.

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  3. I can read it in your eyes and the picture of yours conveys the same point so honestly. A truth we all know from day one but accepting it is not so easy. Watching it happen is worse. Now I know why my hubby stands in front of mirror and keep on looking at his wrinkles and then comes to me to ask as if he wants to know whether I still love him the way I used to few years back. For me he is forever young.

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    • Exactly, Rick. Ironically, I wanted to be an actor and told the Boston TV suits that was my intent when I arrived there in 1970. I did “background” bits in films like “The Great Gatsby” (Redford version) while still busy on TV. By the time I retired and tried my hand at movies again, it was too much like the hours in TV news. The fantasy was pretty much gone. It’s nice when I still get recognized these days. The ego loves getting stroked. And, I get a kick out of seeing myself pop up sometimes in PBS “American Experience” pieces. That is truly bizarre.

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    • Yes and yes. I think I see things more clearly now. I used to mentally delete stuff that didn’t fit my “agenda”. I think it means maybe I am finally growing up. Maybe.

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      • I know exactly what your saying. I approach things now with much deeper thought than before. I keep coming back to the theory that I work with my mind more as I age because I am devoting less energy to my physical being. So this is what being a grown up is like. 😉 G-uno

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  4. It is funny when you see the news anchor everyday you don’t really notice the aging process. It’s only when they show an old broad cast of the same guy that you take notice. Don’t worry Garry, you aren’t alone we all getting older together.
    Leslie

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    • Judy, it’s karma or something. I think we ALL felt the same way. The thing about being a TV “celeb” is you think you’re always gonna look the same. It’s the “Norma Desmond” thing. I love it when folks, my age or older, greet me with “I grew up watching you on TV”. Hey, I love it! I am an old ham.

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